FESTIVAL ROUND-UP: Suedtirol Jazz Festival Alto Adige 2017 (2 of 3)

Jazzrausch
Photo credit: Alison Bentley


Suedtirol Jazz Festival Alto Adige 2017
(4 July 2017. Report by Alison Bentley)

This festival is partly about contrasting experiences: both music and places. In the sunny open spaces of Bozen/Bolzano, Munich band Jazzrausch played their acoustic club grooves with attitude and fun, stealing the scene as passing cyclists jumped off to listen, along with fascinated small children. Kevin Welch’s megaphone had some cool-sounding distortion as he sang, "I wanna be a banana" to an irrepressibly funky beat. Tuba grunts (Jutta Keess) earthed complex horn harmonies as we followed them, Nu Orleans-style, through busy market streets. Angela Avetisyan’s trumpet solo resounded in the atrium of a bank; Florian Leuschner soloed on bari while running in and out of the crowd.

A few streets away, the private garden of the Palais Toggenburg was sheltered from the heat of the day by huge trees. At the front of the stage were three large plastic children’s trucks, suggesting playfulness to come. Music was from their 2016 Babel CD God At The Casino. In On a brûlé la tarte (We burnt the pie) the trio found new sounds in their instruments, like musical magpies. Sylvain Darrifourcq scraping cups across the tom; the gentle tone of Valentin Ceccaldi’s cello harmonics; Manuel Hermia’s distorted sax cries - as if they were saying, "Let’s see what this will do!" with a childlike curiosity. The effect was very visual: you wanted to see as well as hear.

Hermia - Darrifourcq - Ceccaldi
Photo credit: Alison Bentley

At times, the Italian word for drums, batteria, seemed just right, especially in Ho Chi Minh, a "musical metaphor for the war". Ceccaldi often played double-stopped notes - one a drone, the other sliding in tense but languid harmonies, or with rock energy: Purple Haze meets the Rite of Spring. His slap cello was as percussively robust as a bass drum. Hermia’s sax was sweetly lyrical, then a thrilling raunchy roar. They brandished their children’s trucks to the audience in a surreal, triumphant gesture.

A cable car took us up the side of the mountain, 1000 metres or so, to Ritten/Renon, where Carate Urio Acoustic were playing in the shade of the station. Joachim Badenhorst’s aqueous bass clarinet and Brice Soniano’s full-throated voice over dampened snare and bells was like a sound burst from the Peking opera, until gipsy fiddle and riffing trumpet and bass joined in. Soniano took up a second double bass, rooting everything, while Pascal Niggenkemper slid large metal rings up and down the strings of his bass. The band split in half between the two ends of the crowded mountain train carriage, improvising to each other across commuters and tourists. There was a beautiful moment when Eirikur Orri Olafsson played I’m So Lonesome I Could Cry, one-handed, while holding on to the side of the hurtling train. Later, they played on a wooden platform suspended precariously above a steep drop, as gentle and slow-moving as the natural earth formations below.

Carate Urio Acoustic
Photo credit: Alison Bentley
At the top of another mountain, half an hour away, we were a little nearer the stars in the Planetarium. Fil combined art song and improvisation, with Leila Martial’s voice and electronica, and Valentin Ceccaldi’s cello. Galaxies whirled overhead in Fauré’s Au bord de L’eau, Martial’s vibrato as expressive as Piaf’s, her looped harmonies behind shivering cello lines. Ceccaldi’s pizzicato notes created chords and movement - just as the zodiac signs superimposed above us made sense out of the random stars. Ceccaldi delineated the harmony minimally and cleverly in Purcell’s "What Power art thou, who from below..." (Cold Song.) Martial’s voice crackled with emotion, as she sang: "Let me freeze to death", before dissolving into Gollum-like whispers, simultaneously scary and comic.

The duo’s composition based on Bosch’s painting The Garden of Earthly Delights had Cathy Berberian-like full voice and chattering, and Laurie Anderson-esque glottal stabs. A giant moon loomed above, as if about to fall on us. Cello drones followed the trajectory of a comet. Another piece had looped vocals as eerie as Ligeti’s Requiem in 2001: A Space Odyssey. Violent cello bursts heralded images focused on the earth: mountains, rocks. Fil ended with a delicate version of Lennon’s Oh My Love, humanising the images. Outside, the real stars were beginning to appear over the real mountains…

LINK: Suedtirol Jazz Festival Alto Adige 2017 (1 of 3)

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